ACA health insurance open enrollment period

Monitor staff
Published: 12/3/2021 3:53:51 PM

As the Affordable Care Act enters its second decade, the pandemic-fueled disruption of the workplace and employer-provided health insurance may be giving it a boost.

During a Friday online presentation about continuing open enrollment in the Obamacare program, Elia Ashooh, project director of Health Market Connect, which staff navigators to help people make decisions about the program, ticked off a list of ways COVID-19 has interfered with workplace insurance: “People are retiring early, and may not be eligible for Medicaid; they’re changing or losing jobs; the whole gig economy.”

In all those cases, he said, people can benefit from looking at plans available via Healthcare.gov through Jan. 15, 2022. Enrollment must occur by Dec. 15 for coverage to start Jan. 1.

The scramble for employees has increased the value of the Affordable Care Act for companies that can’t afford to provide health insurance, said Lisa Beaudoin, executive director of Able New Hampshire. “Small businesses really need access to the marketplace in order to get the staff we need,” she told the presentation.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined the presentation, urging people to investigate the plans and consider their insurance options.

“I think the pandemic as well as the substance abuse crisis has made people aware of how important having health insurance coverage is,” Shaheen said.

She said the U.S. Senate would within two weeks get the Build Back Better Act from the U.S. House of Representatives. President Biden’s signature plan to expand the social safety net contains the most significant expansion of the ACA program since it began in 2010.

“This is something we should have been able to do a couple months ago. … There’s a real urgency about trying to get this done as soon as possible,” Shaheen said.

Among its provisions are two that were secured by Shaheen: expanding the premium tax credits and lowering the cost of insulin. Shaheen has a granddaughter with Type 1 diabetes.

The Build Back Better Act also gives Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, closes what is known as a Medicaid coverage gap, and would invest $150 billion for in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities.

About 48,000 people in New Hampshire enrolled through ACA last year. This year’s open enrollment period began last month but state data is not available on how many have signed up so far. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, which runs the ACA, said that nationally 2.8 million have bought insurance through it this period, including more than half a million last week.

For assistance with deciphering and deciding about ACA program, contact Health Market Connect at help@hmcnh.com. 

(David Brooks can be reached at (603) 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)
David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.



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